I am Kristof Ringleff , Founder at Fooman and a German living in New Zealand. This makes it often difficult for people to pinpoint my accent. I was born and raised in Germany and spent one year in the USA for a high school exchange program, in New York State.
After I finished my university training to be a media engineer I moved to New Zealand. I’ve been living here in Auckland, New Zealand ever since – it’s paradise. I’m lucky to live near the beach and also have the city nearby.
The Journey Began
I’ve been coding Magento since the very first beta release – but that’s absolutely not a prerequisite for getting started as a Magento developer. There are still great opportunities to get started with Magento today in 2021.
The pre-release of Magento caught my eye back in 2007 and I started experimenting with it in my free time. I knew back then that ecommerce was only going to get bigger.
Magento won my interest for a few reasons. Back then it was definitely the new kid on the block and they approached building a new type of ecommerce platform with extensibility in mind from the get go. To this day this is still one of the strong points of Magento.
The Need for Fooman
Fooman started with the first extension I created purely as a hobby – Speedster (a free extension that compresses and combines JS and CSS to make people’s sites load faster). I never expected it to go viral but to my surprise it did, and it really helped to get our name out there. Sometimes, business starts in the most surprising ways. You just have to be agile and put something out there that adds value to the community.
Fooman exists because there’s a gap in the extension market for extensions with excellent code quality that merchants can trust. Too many extension developers provide a poor experience with substandard code, but we stand by our core value proposition of quality and have won a loyal following of developers who trust our code and support.
I’m proud that our code helps people around the world to run their own businesses developing and selling on Magento. The fact that Fooman has been around for 13 years blows my mind!
The biggest challenge I’ve faced as an extension developer is copycats. I’ve reported other extension developers for everything from outright code theft, to using our exact marketing web copy on their website, and even plagerising our reviews.
So over the years, our business model has changed more towards relationships with agency developers who trust us and buy our extensions over and over again. Agencies know the reputable extension companies and which ones to avoid.
Our team is fully remote. Here’s a picture of my office here in Auckland.
Kristof Ringleff Workpalce
Advice for Business Owners
The best advice I have for aspiring Magento entrepreneurs is to get involved in the Magento community online and in your local area. Talk to as many people as possible – not to sell to them, but to get to know them as people. If there isn’t a meet-up where you live, start your own! I run the local Magento meet-up group in Auckland and have made some great business connections and friendships through our events.
I always think the most interesting new business opportunities are those which we can’t yet fully imagine today – at least in an obvious way. Take Hyvä themes for example – Willem Wigman at German agency integer_net has essentially re-invented the Magento frontend with lots of momentum behind their new themes, which is something we couldn’t have even imagined 1 year ago.
For extensions, there’s a lot of saturation for core modules already so you really need a unique idea or integration to stand out and build a business if you’re starting out now.
Magento & Beyond
It’s been interesting to see how the Magento market has changed since Magento 2, and watch certain segments of merchants move over to SAAS ecommerce solutions, and also to Shopware which is popular in Germany.
I see Magento’s future direction growing more in the B2B and complex, enterprise build space. At Fooman our plans are to grow and align with this new Magento direction. However, I still firmly believe that Magento has a lot to offer small and mid-sized merchants, as it provides incredible flexibility and extensibility which most SAAS platforms can’t provide. It really always comes down to what the merchant is trying to achieve now and in the future.
My Love for the Magento Community
Magento has a fantastic, strong community. I enjoy attending Magento events and meeting other developers. Of course, that was easier in pre-Covid times, but there are some great online meet-ups that are worth attending. The Magento Extension Developers Network (ExtDN) and the Adobe Developer Conference are two good ones.
Because I’ve been involved in Magento for so long, I have formed some great friendships with other developers. One great memory is hosting a BBQ at my house with Jisse Rietsma (Yireo), Sherrie Rohde (Magento) and Robert Popovic (ex-Lero9).
How I Keep Myself Updated
I keep up-to-date on Twitter, Stack Exchange and by following popular blogs and podcasts in the Magento community. At Fooman we compile the best monthly reads from Magento developers, and have our own Magento blog publishing tips and tricks.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I usually spend free time with my family, going hiking and to the park or beach. Travel has always been a favourite pastime, and we are trying to see more of New Zealand until safe international travel will be possible again in the future.
I enjoy sport and running, and recently competed in a 33km coast to coast run and swim event.